Federal Public Service Foreign Affairs

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Federal Public Service Foreign Affairs
Belgium MFA.jpg
Agency overview
Formed 1831; 187 years ago (1831)
Jurisdiction Belgium
Headquarters Rue des Petits carmes, 24
Brussels
Employees 2538
Ministers responsible
Deputy Minister responsible
Website https://diplomatie.belgium.be/en

The FPS Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation (Dutch: FOD Buitenlandse Zaken, Buitenlandse Handel en Ontwikkelingssamenwerking, French: SPF Affaires étrangères, Commerce extérieur et Coopération au Développement, German: FÖD Auswärtige Angelegenheiten, Außenhandel und Entwicklungszusammenarbeit), more commonly known as the FPS Foreign Affairs, is a Federal Public Service of Belgium.

The FPS Foreign Affairs is responsible for foreign policy and diplomacy and is occupied with the external relations of Belgium, including European cooperation and development cooperation. It maintains 117 embassies, consulates and other diplomatic missions.

Mission[edit]

The Federal Public Service Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation is in charge of implementing Belgium's foreign policy. Its mission is to "serve, defend and promote the interests of Belgium and Belgians abroad, to stimulate the coherence of the country's actions on the international scene and to coordinate Belgium's European policy as a federal country. The FPS works towards a secure, just and prosperous world'[1].

The FPS' work is set out in a contract between the central administration and the political authorities, represented by the Minister of Foreign Affairs. This "administrative contract" identifies the mission, the vision and the objectives carried out by the administration. The main priorities outlined in this contract are as follows:

  • "defending of our fundamental values, such as democracy, human dignity, human rights and gender equality;
  • contributing to peace and security in the world, by strengthening the multilateral system and the international legal order;
  • contributing to the fight against poverty and to international social solidarity by, among others, having a sustainable and targeted development cooperation
  • defending the political, economic and legal interests of our country;
  • helping Belgians abroad and protecting them and members of the diplomatic corps established in Belgium;
  • preparing, coordinating and following Belgian's European policy in all its aspects."[2]

The FPS Foreign Affairs is in charge of coordinating Belgium's foreign policy and overseeing its international relations with other countries.

Ministers responsible:[edit]

  • Minister of Foreign Affairs: Didier Reynders (took office on 6 December 2011)
  • Minister of Development Cooperation: Alexander De Croo (took office on 11 October 2014)
  • Secrétaire d'État au Commerce extérieur : Pieter De Crem (took office on 11 October 2014)
Belgian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Didier Reynders, campaigning for a non-permanent seat at the United Nations Security Council, 2018

Assistance abroad[edit]

Consular services are a major element of the FPS' action abroad. A large part of the budget, the personnel and the public attention is devoted to such questions[3].

In this regard, the central administration and the diplomatic missions are the first to be concerned in case of a crisis or an accident involving Belgians abroad. To help organize an effective assistance to citizens in need of it, the FPS produces regularly updated travel advisories about every country in the world[4]. Further, the Ministry has developed an online tool called Travellers Online for citizens to register their trips, so they can be more easily reached in case of a problem in the country they are visiting. This allows the FPS to inform and provide support in case of an emergency.

History[edit]

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Belgium was established by the first government of the independent country, on 26 February 1831. At the time, the Foreign Affairs administration existed next to the ministries of War, Finances, Interior and Justice. Over the years, the competences of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will evolve in keeping with the constitutional changes that Belgium underwent. Alongside the development of the central administration, Belgium's first diplomatic missions are opened in London and Paris, in 1831.

Egmont Palace[edit]

The Palace of Egmont was the main residence of the Egmont family (1532-1729) then of the Arenberg family (1729-1918). In October 1918, the Palace became the property of the City of Brussels, before being purchased by the Belgian state in 1964. Since the early 1970's it is used by the Belgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs to host a part of its diplomatic activities, seminars and receptions.

Organisation[edit]

The FPS Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation is organised into six Directorates-General, supported by five Support-Directorates:

  • The Directorate-General for Bilateral Affairs (DGB)
  • The Directorate-General for Consular Affairs (DGC)
  • The Directorate-General for Development Cooperation and Humanitarian Aid (DGD)
  • The Directorate-General for European Affairs and Coordination (DGE)
  • The Directorate-General for Legal Affairs (DGJ)
  • The Directorate-General for Multilateral Affairs and Globalization

In December 2016, the Federal Public Service Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation had 2538 employees:

  • 758 employees of the central administration
  • 651 members of the diplomatic missions abroad, expatriated from Belgium
  • 1129 members of the diplomatic missions abroad, recruited locally

Diplomatic missions[edit]

The central administration of the FPS Foreign Affairs works by relying on the activity of a large network of diplomatic missions located around the world. In 2018, Belgium had 117 diplomatic missions:

  • 82 embassies
  • 17 consulates-general
  • 5 consulates
  • 4 diplomatic offices
  • 1 representative office (in Taipei)
  • 8 permanent missions to international organizations

In addition to these missions, Belgium also maintains 338 honorary consulates around the world.

Public diplomacy[edit]

The Federal Public Service Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation is very active on social media:

In 2016, a new website was launched: Focus on Belgium.It serves to highlight Belgium's assets and achievements. It is a part of push towards better and more diverse public diplomacy in order to promote Belgium in all its facets.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]